Thursday, February 7, 2008

Check out these babies!

Yes, this is shameless promotion of cute. But we think you will like this penguin chick as much as we do. The grey seal pup is pretty sweet, too. All this news comes to you directly from the Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration, meaning they wrote it.
MYSTIC - Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration is providing care for a stranded grey seal pup that recently arrived from the University of New England in Maine.
The pup was first spotted near York, Maine on Jan. 30, but subsequently went back into the water. The seal appeared again on Feb. 1, this time observed in the middle of a road, a long distance from its ocean habitat. The seal appeared very thin and the Maine Department of Marine Resources was called. The MDMR transported the seal to the University of New England, which temporarily cares for rescued marine animals in Maine. UNE then contacted Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration’s Marine Mammal & Sea Turtle Stranding Program, asking that the seal be transported there.

The grey seal is currently being treated at Mystic Aquarium with antibiotics and is being given a daily diet of fish. If all tests are negative, the grey seal could be released in about a month. “He is slowly beginning to eat on his own,” says Janelle Schuh, Stranding Coordinator of Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration’s Marine Mammal & Sea Turtle Stranding Program. “He seems to prefer to chomp the fish into pieces instead of eating the fish whole.” Grey seals are common in area waters, Schuh said.

Happy “Little” Feet Too!

While the grey seal will eventually head home, another new visitor is getting the hang of living in its new environment. In January, one of Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration’s African penguins gave birth to a new chick.

The Aquarium is part of the Species Survival Plan for African black footed penguins and has had more than a dozen chicks successfully hatched over the past 18 years. African Penguins lay a clutch of 2 eggs and both parents share in responsibility of incubating the eggs for 38-42 days. Chicks spend 24-48 hours hatching out of their eggs and weight about 50-70 grams at birth. Penguins are considered an altritial species, meaning that they rely on their parents nurturing for survival and those parents will feed regurgitated fish to the chicks on demand.

Chicks gain about 50 grams per day and are fully fledged by 75-100 days. Breeding season for Mystic Aquarium's collection starts in December. This new chick weighs in at approximately 70 grams and will make its debut in the spring.

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